Search Engine Optimization, Digital Marketing, or Both?


    Search engine optimization (SEO) has been around since the earliest days of the internet search engine. Digital marketing is fairly new by comparison. If a company is looking to improve its website productivity, which discipline should be utilized? Should the company focus on SEO, digital marketing, or even both?

    These days, it is hard to identify the line between SEO and digital marketing. At Webtek Digital Marketing in Salt Lake City, UT and Austin, TX, the two have merged into one. Webtek’s full menu of services includes all things SEO and digital marketing.

    The disciplines have become so intertwined that even the American Marketing Association now refers to something they call ‘search engine marketing’. If you read their definition, it pretty much describes the same thing that Webtek does.

    The Original SEO Philosophy

    When the public internet first became a thing, it wasn’t widely viewed as a marketing tool. Rather, it was a digital repository of information. This was back in the 1990s. At the time, TV and radio advertising was still king. Newspaper and yellow page ads were also big, as was direct mail marketing.

    All of this is to say that the original SEO philosophy was little more than making sure a website could be found with the search engine. Search engines were measurably less sophisticated back then, so it was fairly easy to manipulate their results through a number of basic practices.

    Search engines have become more sophisticated over the last two decades. Manipulating them is not so easy. Still, the main premise of SEO remains – employing certain tools and strategies to ensure that a site performs well on search engine result pages (SERPs) for given keywords.

    The Digital Marketing Philosophy

    Somewhere in the early 2000’s, it became apparent to the marketing industry that they could utilize the internet to reach a much larger and more targeted audience. And just like that, digital marketing was born. In its original form, marketing agencies simply took what they were already doing in the analog world and applied it to the digital world.

    It did not take long for digital marketers to figure out that their efforts relied heavily on search engine participation. In other words, the best marketing practices still relied on search engines directing users to the appropriate websites. Without traffic, marketing through a website was a waste of time.

    There were a few years during which SEO providers and digital marketers maintained separate and distinct businesses. A company would use an SEO provider to generate traffic and a marketing firm to take advantage of that traffic. But once again, things have changed.

    Modern Digital Marketing Services

    Distinguishing between SEO and digital marketing services is getting tougher and tougher. For so many firms, the two disciplines are one and the same. Perhaps the American Marketing Association’s decision to push search engine marketing is a good move in the sense that it really encapsulates the modern SEO and marketing environment.

    The truth of the matter is that digital marketing involves white hat SEO practices. Likewise, an SEO firm has to offer digital marketing services to compete in the modern era. The two business models no longer work separately. Companies want to hire one service provider to do both.

    It is no longer a matter of whether one particular service is better than the other. Both are critical to competing in the online marketplace. SEO and digital marketing work together to take advantage of the internet as a business tool. When they work together well, a website can ultimately be a company’s best marketing and sales tool.